New restaurant at EPCOT. Check.
Increased prices for Disney World annual passes. Check.
A massive celebration to honor the 50th anniversary of Disney World’s opening. Check.
A rise in park capacity heading into the anniversary celebration. Check.
We saw all of these things coming, but Disney a bookie? The entertainment giant serving as a platform for sports wagering and betting?
Nope. We didn’t see that one coming. But that’s exactly what Bob Chapek talked about with a group of investors on Tuesday of this week during the Goldman Sachs 30th Annual Communacopia Conference.
Chapek, CEO of the Walt Disney Company, told the group of investors that the company is looking at building deeper relationships and licensing partnerships with gambling operators through ESPN, which serves as Disney’s sports broadcasting powerhouse.
ESPN currently features some betting lines during games that are broadcast through its network, and points spreads are including during some games as well. Deeper relationships with those operators will allow Disney more opportunities to “get in on the action.”
ABC, which is also owned by Disney, does similar things during some of its sports broadcasts as well.
“There’s a long way between embedded into the ESPN business model and licensing out,” Chapek explained to the audience. “Let’s just say that our fans are really interested in sports betting. Let’s say that our partners — with the leagues — are interested in sports betting. So we’re interested in sports betting.”
Sounds like more of that “Guests’ demand at Disney Parks-type thing” that was discussed during the company’s most recent earnings call in August.
It’s hard to think of Disney–one of the most family-oriented of the Fortune 500 companies (and #41 on the list, by the way)–as a partner in gambling operations. However, there’s big money in sports wagering, and Disney is continually reimagining ways to boost revenue.
What are your thoughts? Do you feel that this is a poor move on Disney’s part–perhaps even a conflict of interest? Or do you feel like it’s a non-issue?